Westfield Matildas Head Coach Alen Stajcic has opened up about the Westfield Matildas’ Rio Games campaign, labelling it as an ‘opportunity missed’ but determined to use it as motivation.
Reflecting on his team’s campaign, which ended in a heartbreaking penalty shootout defeat to host nation Brazil in the last eight, Stajcic knows it was a case of ‘what might have been’.
Having reached an all time high ranking of 5th after the going through the Rio qualifying tournament undefeated, expectations were high and Stajcic made no secret of his intent and belief that the Westfield Matildas were capable of winning Australia’s first ever medal in football.
But those dreams were shattered when Brazil marched into the medal rounds at Australia’s expense in a penalty shootout after neither team could find the back of the net in regulation and extra time.
Stajcic says the Westfield Matildas plan on using the hurt from their Rio campaign to spur the team on to reach greater heights and success over the next four year cycle.
“I think the general mood amongst the whole team including me was that it was an opportunity missed,” said Stajcic.
“I think it was probably the first tournament ever where the Matildas were a genuine chance of winning a medal if we played to our potential, and we certainly had patches where we did that but not as consistently as we were in the qualifiers.
“I think all of the players and coaches realise that and certainly for me and after talking to some of the players, it has fuelled the fire and certainly provided more motivation now to know we can push on even further over the next cycle going into the next World Cup and Olympics and compete with any of the top nations on any given day.”
The Westfield Matildas’ next matches are scheduled to be as part of their participation in the Algarve Cup, which will be held in Portugal from 1-8 March 2017.